Opinion

The Democratic primary is heating up, with the Iowa caucuses less than four months away. Bernie Sanders is among the leading candidates to win the 2020 Democratic nomination after his 2016 underdog campaign inspired a movement and came up just short against Hillary Clinton. This time around, however, it is essential that young voters detach themselves from the same passions that fueled Sanders’ unprecedented campaign.

Young liberal voters will be an even more coveted voting bloc than in the previous election cycle as Democrats are going all-in to undo their political nightmare of Donald Trump controlling the White House. There exists very strong anti-Trump sentiments at the University of Kansas. The same mentality is running rampant through youth culture as a whole. If unified, young voters have the potential to be as influential as they were during both of Barack Obama’s historic elections.

Bernie Sanders was the face of that movement in 2016. Despite media narratives, Sanders’ voter coalition is diverse in ethnicity, age and sex. There are just not enough suburban and rural white guys out there to deliver Sanders more than 13 million votes in primaries and caucuses.

Bernie Sanders was not a fluke in 2016. He captured the minds of almost half of the Democratic party who were desperately seeking an alternative to Clinton. Luckily, in 2020, primary voters will have more than two candidates to choose from.

Former Vice President Joe Biden, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (Mass.), Sen. Kamala Harris (Calif.) and South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg have appeared to cement themselves as the four most likely candidates besides Sanders to win the nomination.

If Bernie was your candidate in 2016, there are many reasons to consider pledging your allegiance to another. 

  • 2016 wounds are still too fresh. It was an emotional, confusing and painful time for the Democratic Party in 2016. On one side, Hillary Clinton supporters felt abandoned and unfairly criticized by Sanders supporters. On the other side, Sanders supporters felt shut out and disenfranchised by the process, whether it be from the problematic superdelegates or the party’s unwillingness to adopt his policy proposals. The vitriol cut deep. The sooner the nation can put the 2016 Democratic primary behind them, the better.

  • Many of Sanders’ proposals are now mainstream. Sanders’ bold ideas of reformation were once written off as pie in the sky, but that is not the case any more. Many of his proposals have been adopted by his opponents. Familiarizing yourself with a new perspective on an old idea can help break you out of your echo chamber.

  • The other candidates are worth considering. Biden, Warren, Harris and Buttigieg are all qualified candidates who have impressed early in the process, and all of them offer a unique vision for 2020 and beyond. If you’ve gone through all of these steps and still find yourself voting for Bernie Sanders, you’ve done your due diligence.

The top priority of liberals is defeating Donald Trump. Amid an impeachment inquiry and profanity-laced Twitter rants, things may seem to be falling apart for Trump, but his re-election is nothing to laugh about (all those jokes in 2016 sure don’t seem quite as funny now, do they?) The Democrats have a legitimate chance to win the 2020 presidential election, and young voters must thoroughly vet their options before sticking to what they know.

Elijah Southwick is a senior from Overland Park studying English and journalism.